In the trenches in Cavan

If you are planning a visit to Cavan, you would do well to pay a visit to the Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff.  We have visited a few county museums over the last few years but Cavan’s museum stood out.  Museums today should strive to create interactive user experience’s and the museum has embraced this idea.

The Museum is based in a beautiful 19th century building that was previously a convent used by the Poor Clare Order of nuns.

Ballyjamesduff convent
View of Cavan Museum building

The nuns arrived in Ballyjamesduff in 1872 with the convent itself being opened in 1883.

In 1992, with the dwindling convent community, a decision was made to close the convent and move to smaller accommodation within the community.  Cavan County Council purchased the convent to house the new county museum.

The museum is located on the Virginia Road – it’s signposted but easy to miss the turn (it’s a narrow slip road beside the church).

The building itself is substantial as you can imagine but luckily they have a lot of varied exhibitions to make good use of the space.

Exhibitions include Cavan GAA history, the history of the Barons Farnham (owners of the Farnham Estate for over 300 years until it was sold in the mid-2000s), the Great Famine, Percy French, local links to World War 1 and an exhibition on the Poor Clare Order of nuns.

There’s some other interesting pieces scattered around the museum like a gun belonging to Arthur Griffith.

Irish War of Independence
Arthur Griffith gun

Percy French was a famous Irish songwriter in the early 1900’s and he is connected to Ballyjamesduff as he worked in Cavan and wrote a famous Irish emigration song called “Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff” and in his honour a replica statue was erected in the town. I found out recently after posting the photo below on our Facebook page, a descendent of Paddy Reilly told me, he was a jarvey taxi man with a horse and cart who use to drive and collect people from Ballyduff and the Oldcastle train station, he did leave Ballyjamesduff, when he emigrated but he returned a few years later and settled back in Ballyjamesduff.

Ballyjamesduff statue
Percy French statue

By far the most impressive features of the museum are the World War 1 Trench Experience and the Visualising the Rising exhibition.

Cavan Museum have a replica trench onsite that was “built to the specifications and manuals of the Irish Guards and used by the Royal Irish Fusiliers at the Battle of the Somme 1916, it is over 350 metres long and includes frontline, communication and support trenches. Over 6000 sand bags were used in its construction. ”

World War 1 trench
Replica trenches – front line

The replica trench is the largest outdoor one of it’s kind in Ireland and the UK. This is very well done and you get a better understanding of what life must have been like in the trenches for the soldiers, they slept in something that resembled a shelf, never far from the rats and mud.  With audio posts dotted throughout the trenches, capturing some of the sounds of the WW1 trenches.

World War 1 first aid
Replica trenches – casualty clearing station

Also onsite is “a replica GPO façade and a series of tunnelled-through contemporary building interiors that allow visitors to experience the claustrophobic fighting conditions endured by the rebels.”

You can go inside the GPO during the Rising and experience the tunnelled Moore street houses.  We both read a book called Inside the GPO, it was a memoir by an Irish volunteer called Joe Goode, which recounts his time during the 1916 Rising. Goode paints a vivid picture of the last days of the Rising, volunteers tunnelling through the narrow rows of houses on Moore street and life inside for the inhabitants, with James Connolly stretchered into the house, a defiant Sean MacDiarmada and Patrick Pearse looking out at the civilians killed and writing the surrender letter and about life for the impoverished families who lived there. One story about the young volunteer Michael Collins trying to cook his ration sausages in a bedroom fireplace, on quenched emblems so as not to attract the British army snipers with smoke coming from the chimney stack, in the end ashes covered the sausages with Michael cursing the snipers.

General Post Office Dublin
GPO facade

The museum has a peace & reconciliation garden that remembers those from all sides of Irish society and the different paths they took, that led some to the trenches in World War 1 and others to the Easter Rising.

A Rebel’s home

 

Kiltyclogher or Kilty as it is known locally, is a small village situated in north Leitrim, it is right on the border with Fermanagh. It is a quaint little village, laid out neatly with four roads, the village lies on the R281 road.

 

Seán Mac Diarmada's statue in Kiltyclogher, Leitrim Mac Diarmada statue
Seán Mac Diarmada statue which was erected in 1940. It was created by the Irish Sculptor Albert Power (1881-1945)

 

Brief History

The village was originally established in the 1830’s by the local landlord Charles Henry Tottenham, in honour of his daughter Sarah who had died in a riding accident, the village was originally named Sarahville and a crest with this name can still be seen today on the Market house building in the town.

Charles who lived in the nearby Glenfarne Hall, was the son of Nicholas Loftus Tottenham, originally of Loftus Hall on the Hook Head peninsula in Wexford. The Tottenham family arrived in Ireland during the Cromwellian plantation. Nicholas had been a Captain in a British Regiment and a M.P. for Wexford and he was bequeathed land in Leitrim.

Charles Tottenham built the village which consisted of 25 houses and the Market house and by the mid 1830’s, the village had 130 inhabitants.  There was also a constabulary police station in the village and a market was held every Friday in the Market house and a Fair on the 14th of the month. In 1837 the Roman Catholic church, St Patrick’s was built and in 1868, the Church of Ireland Kiltyclogher Parish church was built on the Kilcoo road.

During the Troubles, in 1973 the road into Fermanagh was blown up by the British Army, this had a detrimental affect on the local economy and cut off neighbours and townlands.  Thankfully, since the peace process, the road has reopened, although the village has suffered from problems of rural decline and lack of infrastructure and services. For the 1916-2016 centenary this year, the village has been spruced up and is looking really well, with window art facades on some of the old former pubs and shops.  It is hoped that the village will be designated as a ‘Heritage and Cultural Village’ with a special focus on arts and crafts. I think this will be great for the village as it has a history of music and drama. My grandmother brought my mother to some of the amateur drama plays held in Kilty back in the 1970’s.

McGowans Bar - Kiltyclogher Leitrim

Old Memories

I’m fond of Kilty as my grandparents lived just over the border and Kilty was their nearest village, I spent many summers there and walked in the road and over the old wooden bridge (which at one point resembled something out of an Indiana Jones movie) which crossed the river and up to Kilty for church on Sunday’s, my aunts changing out of their old mucky shoes and hiding them in a bag behind an old wall, before continuing on up into Kilty village in their high heels.

Art work on old tailor's shop
Bredin Tailors shop, Kiltyclogher Leitrim

 

Heritage Centre

We visited the new heritage centre opened in the former Market house building in the village and to do a tour of the home of the 1916 Leader Seán Mac Diarmada. The heritage centre hosts an exhibition about Sean and gives a brief history of Kilty, we met Paul there who was very kind and patient!

Market house in Kilty
The former Market house now the Kiltyclogher Heritage Centre

 

Seán Mac Diarmada

 

Sean Mac Diarmada art portrait
Striking artwork of Seán Mac Diarmada by Sinead Guckian displayed in the Heritage centre.

 

Seán was born in Corranmore townland, just outside the village of Kilty in 1883 and he lived in a three room cottage with his parents and his brothers and sisters. Seán had originally planned on been a teacher and he stayed on, in his local school Corracloon and was a teacher’s assistant there, while studying for teaching exams by correspondence. Around this time, he learnt Irish and became involved in the Gaelic League. After failing an exam, he moved to Belfast and worked as a Tram conductor and was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). In 1908, he moved to Dublin and was working as an organiser for Sinn Fein and by 1910 he was working as the editor of the Irish Freedom newspaper. He also became good friends with Tom Clarke and was considered to be Clarke’s protegé.

Irish cottage of Sean Mac Diarmada
The 19th century thatched cottage of Seán Mac Diarmada – 1916 Rising Leader

 

In 1964, Seán’s bachelor brother was approached by the Office of Public works, they wanted to make the cottage a national monument and asked Seán’s brother, not to make any alternations to the cottage, in return he received an allowance and continued to live in the cottage until his death in 1976. Walking into the 19th century white washed thatched cottage, you see the big open hearth and get the smell of turf, old furniture is dotted about the cottage, some of which was made by Seán’s father, who was a farmer and carpenter, it really brings you back in time, it is as if Seán and his family have just stepped out and will return at any minute. My mother came along with us and she loved it, as she grew up in a similar cottage in the 50’s and 60’s, with the big open hearth and hooks for hanging a kettle and saucepans.

Old hearth in traditional irish cottage
The old hearth, put on the kettle and throw some boxty on the pan

 

Inside Seán Mac Diarmada's cottage
Old dresser built by Seán’s father, on display at the family cottage in Kiltyclogher, Leitrim

 

It’s worth booking a tour with the heritage centre as they will meet you outside and open up the cottage, otherwise you can drive up to the cottage and view it from the outside, but it will really make your visit worthwhile to go into the cottage, we really enjoyed our visit to the village and the cottage. You can check out the heritage website for opening times and directions.

 

 

Sources:
1. kiltyclogherheritagecentre.com
2. Seán Mac Diarmada Summer School - seanmacdiarmada.ie/sean-mac-diarmada
3. Seán Mac Diarmada - 16 Lives biography book by Author Brian Feeney 
4. Tottenham Genealogy - tottenham.name/Tree/SectionC9.pdf
5. Wikipedia.org/wiki/Se%C3%A1n_Mac_Diarmada
6. Irish Century - www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufLoFB3Jx3E
7. forebears.io/ireland/connaught/leitrim/clonclare/kiltyclogher
8. kilmorediocese.ie/diocese/parishes/113
9. leitrimobserver.ie/news/home/206963/This-is-our-last-chance-to.html
10. visual-arts-cork.com/irish-sculpture/albert-power.htm

 

Citizens in Conflict

During the week, Richard visited the Dublin City Library to check out the Citizens in Conflict  exhibition.  It’s a 1916 Easter Rising exhibition currently on display at Pearse street Library in Dublin 2, running until the 25th June 2016.  It’s an historic multi-media exhibition which includes eye witness accounts and sources such as Dublin Fire Brigade logbook.

It gives a snapshot of the Rising through the eyes of ordinary citizens in Dublin and how the Rising affected them, with posters about Martial Law, curfews and notices about shops, banks and bakeries closed due to the conflict.

Citizens in Conflict Exhibition - Irish flags
Citizens in Conflict Exhibition – Irish flags

It has a particular focus on the Pearse Street area of the city (formerly Great Brunswick street) where Patrick and Willie Pearse grew up and where Boland’s Mill garrison was commanded by Eamon de Valera. It also remembers the 257 civilians who were killed during the rising including 40 children.

Citizens in Conflict Exhibition - Martial Law
Citizens in Conflict Exhibition – Martial Law posters

Free Guided Tour

You can pop in and view the exhibition during Library opening hours and there are also free guided tours available on Monday’s and Wednesday’s with historian Donal Fallon, the tour lasts 30 minutes. Donal is also one of the writers on the Come here to me blog and we first heard about the exhibition through the blog’s instagram page.

Citizens in Conflict Exhibition - Pearse Street library
Citizens in Conflict Exhibition – Pearse Street library

The library is worth a visit to view the beautiful building it is housed in, the Dublin City Library and Gilbert Archives on Pearse street was originally the Great Brunswick Street Carnegie Library and Dublin City Council’s library headquarters. The building dates back to 1909 and was designed by the city architect C.J. McCarthy and the façade of the original building is composed of Mount Charles sandstone with dressings of Ballinasloe limestone.

Location and Opening hours

The Dublin City Library & Archives or Pearse Street Library is located on Pearse street in Dublin 2 and is opened from Monday to Saturday from 10 am, with late openings until 8 pm from Monday to Thursday.

It is a 10 minute walk from Pearse street dart station

 

Images: melcoo.com & featured image - Google maps
Sources: melcoo.com, Dublin City Library & Library buildings

Photos from O’Donovan Rossa Funeral commemoration

Photos from the O’Donovan Rossa commemorations, the State service at Glasnevin Cemetery and the Sinn Féin funeral re-enactment.  Read all about it here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa commemoration

We attended two Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa funeral commemoration services this weekend.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa was an Irish Fenian, originally from Cork, he established the Phoenix National and Literary Society, which later merged with the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  He was imprisoned by the British and was eventually exiled to America, where he continued to campaign for Irish freedom.  He is most remembered today for his funeral, where Pearse gave a famous speech.  Which was said to be the start of the 1916 Rising.

Colourised version of the famous O'Donovan Rossa funeral from 1915
Colourised version of the famous O’Donovan Rossa funeral grave side photo

 

We heard about the first service on the Ireland 2016 Facebook page two weeks ago and applied for free tickets on the Glasnevin Cemetery website.   This first commemoration is part of the State’s official events.  We arrived at 9.30 am and queued up, along with 1500 people, we had got tickets to be inside the cemetery by the O’Connell Tower, near the Republican plot, although this been 2015 not 1915, we were about 100 metres back behind barriers from the grave site and watched on big screens.   On arrival, we received a souvenir copy of the funeral service, it was a copy of the original funeral booklet and had some old photos and an old photo of the grave site which had been colourised.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first service started at 10.30 am  in Glasnevin Cemetery, the American descendants of O’Donovan Rossa were in attendance and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humpreys, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D. Higgins arrived and inspected the Irish Army, Defence Force’s 6th Infantry Battalion as the Army band played.

The director of the Glasnevin Cemetery trust, John Green, spoke and gave an account of O’Donovan Rossa, he also stated controversially that O’Donovan Rossa near the end of his life, had become repentant about his campaign on Britain, but this is widely disputed as untrue.

President Higgins laid a wreath on Rossa’s grave and the actor Jim Roche played the part of Padraig Pearse and gave the famous oration speech.

The fools, the fools, they have left us our Fenian dead and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.

This was followed by  a gun salute by a Defence Forces firing party.

The weather was lovely and it was blue skies and the sun came out. After the service we headed off and got the bus into town and got some lunch.

We then walked over to Dublin City Hall, for the second commemoration.  This service was organised by Sinn Féin and was a re-enactment of the O’Donovan Rossa funeral, which took place on the 1st August 1915.  Hundreds of people had dressed up in old costumes, ladies with big hats and long skirts and men in waistcoats and flat caps.  We only heard about this re-enactments a few days ago, so didn’t have time to gather a costume, but I would have loved to have taken part.

In the main hall, there was a coffin draped with a Irish tricolour, surrounded by men in Irish soldier costume.  An actor played the part of the priest Father Flanagan who gave a sermon before the coffin was removed.  Father Flanagan hailed from Cliffoney in Sligo.

Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa Funeral re-enactment City Hall Dublin (17)
Soldiers guard O’Donovan Rossa coffin in Dublin City Hall

We saw Gerry Adams there and he was in an old tweed suit costume and he was posing for photos with people in costume. Outside there was an ornate horse drawn carriage, with two black horse’s dressed in feather head wear and the bands practising and getting ready to depart.  We walked up ahead, as we wanted to take some photos as the cortege made its way passed the iconic GPO.

Rossa funeral cortege
Rossa funeral cortege

We stopped by College Green and the GPO and took photos, the pipe bands went by, four Army officers on horseback, the horse drawn carriage with the coffin, some relatives of Rossa followed along with Gerry Adams in costume and Mary Lou McDonald and Martin McGuinness, followed by soldiers and then hundreds of people in costume, pipe bands and many more people marching along, it was quite a spectacle and lots of tourists and people shopping, stopped to line O’Connell street and watch the parade re-enactment.  We didn’t follow it along as they were going back up to Glasnevin Cemetery for the rest of re-enactment and we didn’t have tickets.

Here are some more photos from the O’Donovan Rossa funeral re-enactment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before heading home, we popped into the GPO and bought a commemorative O’Donovan Rossa stamp.

If we had known, we probably would have gone to this one as it was more interactive but it was nice to see President Higgins at the first commemoration service and hear Padraig Pearse’s famous speech and the booklet was very interesting.

I know the media are talking about a competition between the government and Sinn Féin, but I think its all good, especially for history buff’s like us, regardless of what political party if any you might be affiliated with.  I do think we should be commemorating and celebrating the 1916 Rising, in the same the way the American’s celebrate the 4th of July.   We were looking at the events for the official 2016 Ireland and the Sinn Féin events and I think it’s brilliant, there is a choice of different types of events for people to attend.